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Friday, August 7, 2020

Top Stories > Government

Mamakating holds public hearing for dates of seasonal camps

Jul 30, 2020

By Samantha Montagna  - reporter/photographer

Many residents of Catskill Adventure Resort attended the town meeting to speak to the board about dates.
WURTSBORO -- Mamakating held a public hearing during their town board meeting on July 21 for the Local Law for Uniform Date of Operation for Camps.
This local law would affect all camps but specifically affects people who stay at the seasonal vacation camps. Due to Governor Cuomo's COVID-19 regulations, gatherings of over 50 people are not allowed, and the public hearing met the 50-person mark before the meeting even began.
Many people from the local vacation camps, such as Catskill Adventure Resort, came to speak to the board about the dates for seasonal occupancy at these camps. Currently, according to the residents of the camps, the dates for moving in and out were May 1 to October 31, and these dates have been in place for over 30 years. The residents were upset because the local law states the dates are now May 15 to October 15 and will now lose a month of time at the resorts.

However, according to Supervisor Janet Lybolt, the dates are not being changed because those were always the approved dates for occupancy.
Lybolt told the Democrat that she, along with Deputy Supervisor Eileen Rogers and Planning Board Chairman Lorrence Green, have been going through the laws and codes in order to develop codes for short-term rentals including Airbnb's and they found the discrepancy.
With more tourism occurring in the area, Lybolt said “they have to have a handle on this” when it comes to more people opening their homes for Airbnb's and the operation of camps against the codes.
Currently, in the code books, the general camps' dates of operations are May 15 to Oct 15, but under the vacation camps, the dates are not listed specifically even though they fall under general camps, according to Lybolt.
The board decided to hold the public hearing and vote on this local law to have “consistency in codes,” Lybolt said. “Nothing has been changed ... it is a clarification.”
The codes are in place to ensure that the camps are not living on the campgrounds year-round. When the weather starts to get cold, according to Lybolt, the water and sewer lines freeze, and the camps do not have the infrastructure to operate under the guidelines of the Department of Health during the winter months.
Nonetheless, residents of the camps came to the public hearing to find that they had to wait for people to leave to be allowed into the meeting to speak to the board.
One resident of Catskill Adventure Resort, Tammi Gil, asked, “why is this on the agenda” when people have been coming to these resorts for over 30 years adhering to the May 1 to Oct 31 dates?
Gil, who did have the opportunity to speak to the board at the end of the meeting, told them that the camps have a “family atmosphere” where they “teach kids to respect one another.”
She stated that the campers have not harmed anyone, and they just want to celebrate the outdoors with their families. In addition, she made the point that the residents of these camps stimulate the local economy by going to local restaurants and shops. The date change for the residents hits them especially hard this year, according to Gil, because of the pandemic. The camps could not open until Cuomo's guidelines were met on May 30.
Gil's speech was met with a large round of applause from the other residents of the park. After listening to the residents, the board decided not to take action on the local law.
Councilman Tom Morrow stated that “the dates should reflect what people want.” The board will likely revisit the issue at the next board meeting on August 3.
One resident asked at the end of the meeting about the COVID regulations. Since members of the public were not able to hear the entire meeting, the resident asked if the board would consider going back to using Zoom or incorporate other types of media to accommodate everyone.
Supervisor Lybolt later told the Democrat that as long as Mamakating is in Phase 4 and is allowed to have gatherings of 50 people, the meetings will remain public.
The Zoom option is problematic as well, according to Lybolt, because many people do not have access to Zoom or the internet. Lybolt stated that she wanted everyone to be able to attend and that the board was taking proper precautions to ensure social distancing and proper sanitizing procedures.

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